Community Bocce Court

This past month, the long awaited (by some) public bocce court opened outside the King Open school on Cambridge St. Bocce is a great, simple game, and can be played by people of literally all ages, from children as young as three or four to senior citizens well into their nineties.

From Bocce

The first incarnations of the game date as far back as 5000 BC, when the ancient Egyptians threw polished rocks at a smaller target. The goal of the game then, as it still is now, was to get your rock or ball to land closer to the target than anyone else’s. The game has evolved since then, taking many different forms along the way. The first official league and the Bocce World Championships formed in Italy in 1947, and the game has only grown in popularity since then.

From Bocce

Over the past hundred years in Cambridge, various bocce leagues, clubs and informal organizations have come and gone, although recently – especially after the closing of Bertiucci’s and its basement bocce court in Somerville – local players have not had courts available to them without leaving town. The new court is an excellent place for players of all levels of skill and seriousness to come to gather and play a game.

At the unofficial opening of East Cambridge’s very own public bocce court, I tried my hand in a friendly match, and I learned very quickly that the game actually does require some degree of skill to win. Whether you are a long time player or a relative newcomer to the game like myself, the new court is an excellent place to bring a small group of kids or have a relaxing game of Bocce with friends on a weekend afternoon.

From Bocce

From Bocce

Reach Out and Read: Improving Childhood Literacy

CAMBRIDGE – Windsor Street Health Center, 119 Windsor St. #1 map
Cambridge Chronicle blog post: “Rep. Toomey reads to children at Windsor Street Health Center”
Reach Out and Read official website

Reach Out and Read (ROR) is a fantastic national children’s literacy program that focuses on young at-risk children who so often enter school unprepared to learn. By encouraging parents to read with their children from a very early age, and by providing developmentally and culturally appropriate books to children when they visit their pediatricians, Reach Out and Read addresses the very route of the problem of the gap in childhood literacy. Studies have shown that by exposing children to books at earlier ages, ROR has given many two-year-olds as much as a six-month head start developmentally, putting them on a course to be active, productive learners and members of their communities.

From Reach Out and Read

On Thursday September 25th I visited the Reach Out and Read affiliated Windsor Street Health Center in Cambridge to read aloud to a group of young children from the CAAS Head Start program. The three books that they had selected for me to read, Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, and David Gets in Trouble, were perfect for the occasion and for the age-group. It seemed like many of the children were familiar with the stories, and they chimed in to help me with some of their favorite lines.

From Reach Out and Read

It was a great experience, and I think that I probably had just about as much fun as the children did. I’m proud to have been able to participate in and to support this outstanding program, and I look forward to making many more visits like this one in the future.

Statewide Bills

Bond Bills:


Transportation Bond Bills:
Both the three-year $3.5 billion bond bill to finance and increase efficiency in long term projects for the state such as the Green Line Extension through Cambridge and Somerville, and the $1.5 billion bond bill to fund projects on municipal transportation projects will serve to help Massachusetts to meet the increasing demands of our state’s aging transportation infrastructure.
Chapter 86 of the Acts of 2008
Chapter 172 of the Acts of 2008

Housing Bond Bill:
This $1.3 billion bond bill was passed to create and encourage long term development of capital improvements and affordable housing resources, helping to make homeownership a more attainable goal to families across the state
Chapter 119 of the Acts of 2008

Bridge Repair Bond Bill:
This $3 billion bridge repair bond bill provides for the preservation of existing transportation infrastructure, and the assurance of safety on our state’s bridges.
Chapter 233 of the Acts of 2008

Higher Education Bond Bill:
This $2.2 billion bond bill will help the Commonwealth to control costs of higher education for Massachusetts families.
Chapter 258 of the Acts of 2008

Children and Families:

Booster Seat Bill:
This crucial public safety initiative is an important step in protecting child passengers on the road, and requires children up to the age of 8 or the height of 4’9” (whichever comes first) to be secured by child passenger safety devices. The proper use of booster seats has been proven to significantly decrease child fatalities in motor vehicle accidents.
Chapter 79 of the Acts of 2008

Child Abuse and Neglect Legislation:
This bill created a brand new cabinet level secretary responsible solely for child welfare, establishes minimum education requirements for social workers and toughens penalties for child abuse and neglect.
Chapter 176 of the Acts of 2008

Child Protection Legislation (Jessica’s Law):
Aiming to further protect children from sexual predators, this important legislation increased penalties for sex offenders, and enhanced online tracking of online sexual predators.
Chapter 205 of the Laws of 2008

Education:

Reorganization of the Commonwealth’s Education Governance Structure:
This reorganization has taken important steps to streamline, simplify and improve communication and coordination between every education sector of the Commonwealth. Most importantly, it created a cabinet level secretary to oversee the state’s education system and its reorganization.
Chapter 27 of the Acts of 2008

Reorganization of Early Education Quality & Care System:
As an extension of the overall education reorganization, this initiative works toward improving access to and the quality of early childhood education for all children in the Commonwealth, creating the new Department of Early Education and Care.
Chapter 215 of the Acts of 2008

Environment:

Global Warming Solutions Act:
With this bill, Massachusetts put in place a long term plan to curb greenhouse gas emissions. This is an important step forward in the fight to save our environment from the dangerous effects of harmful emissions produced by humans.
Chapter 298 of the Acts of 2008

Green Communities Act:
This broad reaching energy reform package establishes bold new clean, renewable energy goals for the Commonwealth, providing incentives to municipalities, businesses and individuals to invest in progressive energy saving technologies to meet the new benchmarks.
Chapter 169 of the Acts of 2008

Green Jobs Bill:
Unanimously supported by both braches of the legislature, this innovative initiative will encourage green start-up companies to expand in Massachusetts, and provide residents of all experience levels with exciting new and sustainable careers.
Chapter 307 of the Acts of 2008

Ocean Management Bill:
This bill clarifies existing ocean management laws to allow for clean energy development in areas that had previously been zoned only for traditional energy generation.
Chapter 114 of the Acts of 2008

Health Care:

Electronic Health Records for Health and Human Services:
Moving to further improve Massachusetts health care system, this bill modernizes and standardizes the state’s health care records for those enrolled in states programs. It will help to simplify record keeping and decrease costs to taxpayers over the next several years.
Chapter 130 of the Acts of 2007

Protecting Patient Confidentiality:
This common-sense legislation provides clients of mental health counselors with the same right to privacy and confidentiality as clients of psychiatrists and psychologists.
Chapter 142 of the Acts of 2007

Public Service:

Commonwealth Corps:
This bill established the Commonwealth Corps, a statewide volunteer service organization that works in partnership with the Massachusetts Service Alliance. The mission of the Commonwealth Corps is to engage Massachusetts residents of all ages and backgrounds in direct service to rebuild communities and address unmet community needs. The Corps will provide opportunities for skill building, leadership development and will encourage and enhance a lifelong civic vocation for Corps members.
Chapter 192 of the Acts of 2007

Increased Benefits to Families of Police and Firefighters:
Helping cities and towns to show gratitude to the loved ones of those killed in the line of duty for their thankless public service, this bill allows municipalities to raise funeral expense reimbursements to families of police officers and firefighters killed while on the job from $5,000 to $15,000
Chapter 110 of the Acts of 2007


Tax/Fiscal Policy
:

Sales Tax Holiday:
For the fifth year in a row, the members of the legislature overwhelmingly voted to suspend the state sales tax for one weekend in August, providing consumers with an incentive to stimulate the local retail economy.
Chapter 211 of the Acts of 2008

Corporate Tax Reform:
This bill closed several so-called corporate tax loopholes that were being abused by larger companies at the expense of small businesses and individual taxpayers, increasing tax fairness in the Commonwealth.
Chapter 173 of the Acts of 2008

Investment in Life Sciences:
This 10-year, $1 billion bill invests in our state’s ever-growing life sciences sector, helping to draw new life science companies to the region and keep current ones here. This will have a significant impact growing the number of quality jobs and the state’s reputation as a world leader in life sciences.
Chapter 130 of the Acts of 2008

Mortgage Foreclosure Relief:
In response to the unprecedented spike in the number of home foreclosures, this legislation encourages banks to help borrowers, providing a three month window to cure defaults. It also mandates tough new licensing standards for mortgage loan originators.
Chapter 224 of the Acts of 2007

LIHEAP Fuel-Assistance Appropriation:
Passed in anticipation of a difficult winter season, this bill provided emergency funding to help more than 100,000 elderly residents and low income families pay to heat their homes over the coldest months.
Chapter 174 of the Acts of 2007


*Note: This list only reflects a sampling of some of the more important legislation passed by the House and Senate and signed into law by the Governor. If you have any additional questions about any legislation, whether it is on this list or not, please feel free to contact my State House staff at 617-722-2692.

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Read more about the 2007-2008 Formal Legislative Session: